Page 3719 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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All I have ever sought is that we develop legislation that will protect us to the greatest extent against criminal terrorist activity in Australia, but that we take that very Australian step of ensuring that we protect and commit to our civil liberties, our human rights, the rule of law to the extent necessary, and that we do not diminish it unnecessarily by embracing laws without thinking. This is legislation the states and territories have a stake in. I have a stake in it. There are processes that I have to execute before the legislation is tabled, so I have only this week and next week. After that, it will be too late; it will be a fait accompli and there will be nothing more for me to do. This motion is an absolute nonsense. Why does the Liberal Party not speak about the substance of the bill?

MR SPEAKER: Order! The Chief Minister’s time has expired.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (11.03): Mr Speaker, I speak in support of this motion because of two major concerns. First of all, there is a clear need for terrorism legislation to protect our entire community, but I am also concerned at the reckless conduct of the Chief Minister in deciding to place this draft anti-terrorism legislation on his web site.

The Chief Minister, in his remarks, has expressed the view that his position is clear. I have been listening to this debate and I had daily briefings while I was away and, if his position is clear, I must be one of the few in this place who are struggling to understand his position. I have heard about the to-ing and fro-ing on this issue. He says that we have to ensure that we have arrangements in place to counter threats of terrorism, then he is out there stridently promoting the rule of law, then he is saying that he agrees with things at meetings around a table with his colleagues, and then he is rushing this document onto the web site.

He does so not for the purpose of consultation with the appropriate people that he needs to take advice from, but for the whole of the world; not just for the people of Canberra, but for the entire world: let us share everything with them; we are not going to have any secrets here. The sentiment that is being expressed is one of confusion. On one hand, he says that we have to take measures to protect our community and, on the other, he is giving us a law school type of dissertation on the rights of law in dealing with an issue that respects nobody’s rights.

I think that the Chief Minister is off message here in terms of Canberra. I know that a paper here locally has given him a fair bit of a run and quoted various lecturers in law talking about the technicalities and the processes that may be at risk by some of this legislation, but the fact is that this territory has more people working in areas of security and in confidentiality and trust than probably any other jurisdiction in Australia.

Whilst it might be that a significant number of them have voted for the Chief Minster in the past, I suspect that a lot of them have been rattled by this approach that we have seen of late whereby you cannot be trusted to share information with the territory lest it may become public information. That is the bit that troubles me about the conduct in recent days. I am worried that this rash decision—I think it has been taken for political reasons—will impact adversely on relations between the ACT and the commonwealth.

Mr Stanhope: Rubbish.

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